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Mystery of Mars’ Atmosphere Expansion Unveiled

Summary

In late 2020, scientists observed a sudden expansion of Mars’ atmosphere caused by solar wind. The spacecraft “Maven” detected an increase in the size of Mars’ magnetosphere over a span of one day, allowing its atmosphere to temporarily expand. This […]

Misterija naduvavanja atmosfere Marsa razotkrivena

In late 2020, scientists observed a sudden expansion of Mars’ atmosphere caused by solar wind. The spacecraft “Maven” detected an increase in the size of Mars’ magnetosphere over a span of one day, allowing its atmosphere to temporarily expand. This phenomenon bore similarities to an event that occurred on Earth in 1999.

Solar wind, consisting of charged particles, constantly bombards Mars and other planets in the solar system. Mars’ magnetosphere typically shields the planet by redirecting most of the particles around it. However, when the strength of the solar wind diminishes, the magnetosphere becomes less effective, leading to the expansion of Mars’ atmosphere.

A comparable phenomenon took place on Earth in 1999 when solar wind nearly disappeared for three days. This allowed Earth’s atmosphere to expand to approximately 100 times its normal size before returning to its previous state. Researchers believe that these sudden interruptions in solar wind flow are a result of rare disruptions caused by exceptionally fast solar wind particles either catching up to or overtaking the particles ahead, thereby creating a void in the area where solar wind would normally be present.

Furthermore, studies have shown that coronal holes on the Sun’s surface can influence the expansion of planetary atmospheres. Coronal holes are regions with weaker magnetic fields than the rest of the Sun, allowing solar wind to move faster than usual. It is expected that coronal holes will become more common in the coming years as the Sun approaches its period of heightened activity known as the solar maximum.

These studies provide new insights into the dynamics of planetary atmospheres and the potential consequences of sudden expansions. Understanding these processes can contribute to a better comprehension of atmospheres on other planets and the possibilities of extraterrestrial life.

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